In the neighborhood one over there is a beautiful street with huge gorgeous houses.
Okay, there are a lot of those streets in the neighborhood next door, but I’m speaking of one in particular. And NO, I’m not going to tell you which one, that would be cheating. Anyways, where was I…. Oh yes: on this street, there is a house shrouded in large trees and low stone walls. Up until this morning, I had no idea what the house actually looked like. This might be because it is set far back from the road and verdantly landscaped, or it might be that I am always completely distracted by the table of FREE APPLES on the sidewalk next to the driveway. I have never even glanced towards the house. I discovered this one day a couple of summers ago. I was just looking for a shortcut off the main drag when BAM, FREE APPLES!
(Keep in mind, these are early apples, probably fallen, and not the prettiest. All the better for making applesauce.)
I don’t even take that route to work all that often anymore. I just happened to be wondering about the mysterious and generous free apple house a few days ago and thought I’d take a spin past, just to see. OMG free apples! I picked through them, carefully selecting and tossed a bunch in my bag. two days ago I just grabbed whatever was left, bruised and all.
You don’t really need a recipe for applesauce, but here’s how I do it: I peel the worst ones, to check for yuck, halve or quarter the apples to check for rot, cut off what is unappealing. I toss them in a bias pot, splash some water, spices, lemon juice, cover and cook the heck out of ‘em. It doesn’t really take that long, either. Once the texture seems right you’re going to need to strain it all through something to get all the seeds, peel, and core out of there. Taste it for sweetness. and add some if you think it needs any. I like tart applesauce so I don’t add much, if any at all. Since these are summer apples, they needed a little something. I tossed in a few tablespoons of brown sugar, and that was plenty.
Other things you’ll need if you want to preserve this stuff for later:
First off, it can’t hurt to read a bit here, just for backup.
Fill your big processing pot with water and place on the stove to boil. Your jars should be in the pot. Make sure they boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize, or run them through a dishwasher cycle and don’t touch ‘em. A smaller pot filled with boiling water can hold your lids and rings.
Things get hot from here on out, so use tongs, common sense and clean pot holders to assist you.
Note: The Blackbird was very excited to try my applesauce as a second course to her cheerios yesterday morning. She tasted it, then proceeded to eat the entire bowl. I asked her if she like it. She replied, “Yes, but mommy, next time, don’t buy ‘your own’ applesauce at the grocery store.” Gee, thanks kid. More for me! But, all joking aside, I think the mulling spices gave this batch the slightest kick. I think it is pretty awesome, but the Blackbird disagrees. Lesson learned: spice accordingly for your intended audience. Since I prefer not to share, this worked out quite well.
I’ve often thought that I should give a little of my applesauce yield to these lovely strangers. But then I cook the apples down to a measly two or three jars and get a little protective of my product. This time, I was determined (and I grabbed some more apples yesterday, so I can make some more if I need to stock up my fridge supply).
This morning I dropped off a little jar and thank you note on the front steps of (what I hope is) the free apple house. If I got the wrong house, I hope they like their neighbors well enough to drop it next door.